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'Dark Tower' Still Alive, Just Staying Quiet, Says Howard

Ron Howard addresses the silence surrounding his ambitious attempt to bring Stephen King's fantasy series to the big and small screen simultaneously.

The Dark Tower by Stephen King

In case you were thinking that it's been awhile since you've heard anything about Ron Howard's plan to adapt Stephen King's The Dark Tower series -- it turns out, that's part of the plan.

"We've all taken a vow of silence on the progress, the headway, what we think out timetable is," Howard explained on the Empire podcast, talking about the ambitious idea to tell the story simultaneously in movies and on television. "I don't think I realized how much media interest there was in the title and how much excitement there was."

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The project was initially announced way back in 2010, with Universal's movie and television divisions working with Howard's Imagine Entertainment to create a trilogy of movies that would alternate with television series to tell the full story of King's Gunslinger character.

At the time, Akiva Goldsman -- who was expected to write the screenplays for the movies, and co-write the television series with Mark Verheiden -- said "The worlds of Stephen King's The Dark Tower series are richly detailed, interlocking and deeply connected. By telling this story across media platforms and over multiple hours -- and with a view to telling it completely -- we have our best chance of translating Roland's quest to reach The Dark Tower onto the screen."

A year later, the project hit a serious road bump when Universal Studios cut ties with Imagine over projected costs for the movies, although a few months later, Imagine's Brian Grazer revealed that HBO was interested in the television component of the plan. The movie element, however, remains in flux following Warner Bros. becoming the second studio to pass on the prospect just over a year ago.

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Nonethless, Howard said, the project is "something that we're still working on," admitting that "from a financing side, it's not a straightforward, four-quadrant, sunny superhero story -- it's dark, it's horror. That edge is what appeals to me; the complexities of those characters is what appeals to all of us." The Dark Tower, Howard said, is "a fascinating, powerful possibility" -- but also a "tricky adaptation."

"It got delayed [but] it's never gone away," Howard said. "We're working on it, and Stephen is very patient with us, and Akiva's just gone off and directed a movie. I'm continuing to work, but the Dark Tower dreams -- fever dreams, rather -- are still there. But we're not going to give it a timetable."

Never mind a timetable -- fans would just be happy with a movie studio at this point.